How to Grow Spinach Microgreens
Thinking about growing some microgreens this spring? You’ve come to the right place.
Microgreens are perfect for busy gardeners who don’t want to spend a ton of time weeding, watering, and fertilizing their plants. Because they mature so quickly, you’ll get a quick return on your time and money.
Spinach is one of the best crops you can grow as a microgreen. In this article, we’ll tell you why – and how to grow – spinach microgreens with ease.
What Are Spinach Microgreens?
Microgreens are often confused with sprouts, which are germinated seeds that are eaten in their entirety (root, shoot, seed, and all). When you eat microgreens, you only eat the shot itself.
You’ll harvest microgreens just a few weeks after you sow your seeds, when the plants are roughly two inches tall. You can eat everything from the stem to the leaves. Microgreens are prized for their nutrient content and ease of growing.
You can grow all kinds of microgreen plants, including arugula, carrot, kale, and lettuce.
Spinach is the perfect choice for a microgreen crop because it has a unique taste and plenty of nutrients. With microgreens, you’ll enjoy a more delicate taste than you will when eating fully-grown spinach.
Plus, growing spinach microgreens is easy – all you need is about three weeks from seed to harvest, making for a quick and delicious crop.
Spinach microgreens are loaded with nutrients. They contain large amounts of vitamins (A, C, K, E, and B) along with notable quantities of minerals like calcium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.
Planting Spinach Microgreen Seeds
You can plant spinach microgreens anywhere, including in the garden outside as well as indoors or in a hydroponic (water-based) set-up.
If you choose to plant outdoors, make sure your garden has plenty of shade. Spinach is a shade-loving plant that prefers cooler temperatures. When grown in too-hot conditions, it can bolt (go to flower) or fail to germinate. You may have trouble keeping your greens adequately watered, too.
As long as there is plenty of shade and the temperatures aren’t above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll do just fine growing spinach microgreens outside. Just protect the fragile seedlings from weather extremes, drying winds, and pests.
If you choose to grow indoors, you can grow in a shallow container with good drainage. Place your seed trays on a warm, sunny windowsill. Ideally, the plants should receive direct sunlight from a window that faces south.
You don’t have to invest in expensive containers, either! You can easily use a disposable pie plate or a plastic tote. Just make sure you poke some drainage holes in the bottom if drainage isn’t built-in already
Once you have your container, fill it with several inches of moistened potting soil. Do not use soil from your garden outside. You need to use a sterile potting mix to make sure your seeds do not become contaminated with bacteria or pests from outdoors. Make sure the soil is nice and level before you plant.
Scatter the spinach seeds evenly on top of the soil. This can be tough to do, since the seeds will be quite tiny! Do your best. Then, press the seeds gently into the soil with the back of your hand.
Once the seeds are dispersed, go ahead and cover them with a thin layer of soil. You Can use peat moss if you’d prefer a lighter covering. If you’re planting outside, though, use a heavier medium, as peat moss can easily be scattered by the wind.
Then, lightly water your seeds, ideally with a mister. Make sure the spray of water isn’t too strong, as this can cause your seeds to wash out.
If you’re growing indoors, you can speed up germination by wrapping the container with a clear layer of plastic wrap. This will provide a nice, warm environment that will encourage the seeds to sprout quickly. You can also place the seeds on a heat germination mat or under LED grow lights, both of which will produce seedlings for you in just a few days.
While you’re waiting for your seeds to germinate (it can take anywhere between two and eight days), use your mister once or twice a day. Make sure the soil stays moist but not sodden, as this can cause your seedlings to rot.
Remove the cover of the container (if you used one) as soon as the seeds sprout.
Caring for Spinach Microgreens
Caring for spinach microgreens is incredibly easy. In most cases, all you need to do is water or mist your plants a few times a day – they will take care of themselves otherwise!
Just make sure your plants get ample amounts of sunlight. Spinach microgreens need about four hours a day of direct sunlight, but they may need a bit more during the winter, when the sun is weaker.
How can you tell that your spinach microgreens aren’t getting enough sunlight? They’ll appear leggy and pale, and as though they’re reaching toward the window. Using an artificial grow light can help provide your seedlings with the light they need without causing them to become overheated.
Similarly, you need to make sure you are watering regularly. Set a timer each day to remind you to mist your seedlings. This will help you keep the soil adequately moist but not so wet that your seedlings drown.
The beauty of growing spinach microgreens is that you don’t have to fertilize them. Since microgreens are harvested so young, they’ll never have to compete for nutrients. They are also rarely bothered by pests and diseases. If you’re growing outside, you may need to put a row cover over your greens to protect them from various pests – but usually, this is not a concern.
Harvesting Spinach Microgreens
Your spinach microgreens will be ready for harvest just two to three weeks after planting. Since you’re not waiting for the entire plant to mature into an adult, it can be tough to figure out when the right time to harvest might be.
A good indicator that your spinach microgreens are ready for harvest will be the appearance of the first set of true leaves. Once you see these you can go ahead and grab your scissors. Clip the greens just above the soil line.
Storing and Serving Spinach Microgreens for Later Use
Unfortunately, microgreens don’t have the best shelf life. Since they are so small and fragile, it doesn’t take long before the seedlings have passed their prime.
Once you harvest and wash your microgreens in a salad spinner, you will want to serve them immediately. They can be added to sandwiches, salads, soups – or even eaten plain, on their own!
If you have any microgreens leftover, you can store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. However, they will probably only stay fresh for a day or two at most.
Luckily, though, growing spinach microgreens is incredibly easy. You can plant another crop after you harvest the first by scattering new seeds on the soil and repeating the steps mentioned above. You don’t even have to pull up the old roots! They’ll add organic matter back to the soil for your new planting.
You won’t mind that the greens don’t last forever in your refrigerator because you’ll have a new batch of microgreens to enjoy in no time!